Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ancient Eleon from Above

Aerial photography has long been valuable tool for archaeologists. Getting a ‘bird’s eye’ view not only impresses audiences but more importantly it provides useful information on the use of space and the relationship of topography, architecture, and excavated units. Early methods of aerial photography include using kites, balloons, cranes, and very tall ladders. Google Earth also provides good imaging but the level of detail and the lack of control of when an image is taken make its usefulness limited.

In recent years many projects have started to employ small drones equipped with cameras in their excavation. The Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project first used drone photography in 2014 with the project co-directors (Burke and Burns) making a strong attempt to learn this new and complex recording method.

Both learned the fundamentals of drone flying (including the meaning of terms like ‘pitch’, ‘roll’ and ‘yaw’) and they learned what was necessary to repair the drone and camera. Being somewhat out their element, the directors auditioned several interested students to see if they were especially adapted to flying. They were impressed with the transferrable skills that the computer gamers had which worked very well with drone flying. Toward the end of the summer, after some heavy knocks and tumbles (using a yogurt container as part of the drone was the least of our problems) on the drone making it unusable for the rest of the summer.

It was very fortunate that one of our Dilesi landlords, George Mamonis, just happened to be a small airplane hobbyist. George was more than happy to equip his hobby plane with our Go-Pro camera (also note the yogurt container) for a few evening flights which gave us very good results in 2014. All of these early efforts were a good start but the project realized it needed a dedicated staff person for the drone and aerial photography.

In 2015 our project welcomed Jordan Tynes from Wellesley College for technological support with aerial photography and digital imaging. Jordan spent a week with us and made great headway in capturing still images and video from above.

Jordan also began experiments that have led us from aerial photos to three dimensional models based on drone data. In 2016 with a grant from the Friends of the Library at Wellesley College, Jordan was able to completely revise our aerial and digital photography program. In June this year he arrived with several very heavy suitcases containing two drones, a few computers, and a hand-held 3D scanner.

He and his team took daily aerial shots of all excavated areas, and photogrammetry software produced 3D models and photo mosaics that are geo-coordinated. This imagery records data at great precision, and offers an important complement to our traditional architectural drawings, digital measurements, and descriptions by trench supervisors. Drone photography also produced new video images of our entire site with our team in action. In addition we began a program of 3D scanning of excavated objects, carved objects and complete pots, which we look forward to sharing in publications, at conferences and on social media.

With these new recording tools we are able to provide a much more engaging and lively presentation of our excavation. The enthusiastic responses from audiences show that our work is making an impact. We will of course continue and expand our digital imaging in 2017.

Brendan Burke & Bryan Burns
University of Victoria & Wellesley College

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Fred Winter Collection

Ephesos Museum, architecture court, Corinthian column and capital from Belevi Mausoleum (Professor Fred Winter, 1975)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Three years of fieldwork in the western Argolid

Our survey project, the Western Argolid Regional Project, or WARP, has just wrapped up the third year of fieldwork. Over three years, we’ve fielded 17 field teams, 62 field walkers and 12 team leaders from Canada and the US, and this remarkable group has surveyed nearly 8,000 units covering over 18 square kilometers. That represents the fieldwork that we applied to do in our five-year plan, submitted by the CIG on our behalf to the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. It’s a pretty remarkable achievement, I think, and it’s entirely due to the incredibly hard work of all of the many students that have worked on the project over the past three years.

The landscape hasn’t made their work any easier. This year we worked in the zone between our 2014 and 2015 field seasons in the territories of all four of the villages that are part of our survey area: Lyrkeia, Sterna, Malandreni, and Schinochori. The terrain was really variable, from flat, well-maintained groves on the valley bottom to upland plateaus to steep slopes covered in maquis (mostly kermes oak, Greek πουρνάρι) that scratches skin and rips cloth, wild sage bushes that fill eyes and nostrils with pollen and dust, thistles, and thorny vines.

One of the interesting results of this year was the very low artifact densities. In 2014 we counted over 10,000 tiles and sherds per square kilometer surveyed; in 2015 that number was about 6,500, and in 2016, it was just above 2,700. In some ways, this wasn’t too surprising; a relatively large amount of our territory this year was taken up by long, high ridges oriented east-west that back up against the mountain range that separates the Inachos and Xerias river valleys. The ridges themselves were too rocky and removed from arable land to have sustained settlements in most periods. Rather, our sites this year tended to be located on small hills immediately above the course of the Inachos river, especially at “pinch points” where the valley narrows. On the east side of our survey area, this type of site was represented by Kastraki, where the ruins of a Classical farmstead, with the remains of its stone tower and a large millstone, were surrounded by a fairly dense scatter of sherds and tiles, including Late Roman material.

Many of our high density fields from the first two seasons were especially associated with Classical and early Hellenistic materials. Our 2014 season included the polis of ancient Orneai, which seems to have reached its maximum extent and intensity in these periods, and our 2015 season included a large settlement near Schinochori, probably a town associated with the Argive polity. In the 2016 season, however, only a scattering of Classical and Hellenistic artifacts were found on the left bank of the Inachos river. Thus, it may be that we have evidence for a boundary between the communities of the plain (surveyed in 2015) and those of the upper valleys (surveyed in 2014), manifesting itself as a largely empty space or borderland. This was not true in all periods, however: we found fairly consistent traces of Medieval and early Modern material in the 2016 season, especially on the slopes and hills above the river and its tributaries.

In non-archaeological developments, we continued our little traditions of Saturday fieldtrips to sites in the area, of going to see a play at Epidavros (this time, a raucously hilarious performance of Aristophanes’ Ploutos) and of adopting a local stray puppy and taking it back to North America.

For more information on WARP, please visit our project website and blog at westernargolid.org!

Dimitri Nakassis
WARP co-director


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Fred Winter Collection

Korfu Museum, Gorgon pediment, general view of centre, details of Gorgon, panther, and Zeus and Giant (Professor Fred Winter, 1975)

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Unique Opportunity to Explore My Cultural Roots - Report on My Global

For the past three months, I have had the privilege of filling the position as the Summer Intern with the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG), offered through a joint agreement by the Institute and York University’s Global Internship program. The internship has proven to be a very enlightening experience, and the work assigned to me has amongst others, allowed me to sharpen my organizational skills and broaden my knowledge of the field of archaeology. Living in Athens as a local has been truly unique, as the vibe of Athenian life is very positive and uplifting. Being a major cultural centre with a rich past, many cultural activities exist around the city, and I was able to take advantage of visiting ancient ruins and museums. The internship position holds significant value to me, as I am of Hellenic descent, and have a deep appreciation for Greek language, culture and history. Being granted the opportunity to apply my Modern Greek language skills and fuse some of my academic interests with a practical work experience has given me a rewarding feeling.

In particular, my language skills proved incredibly useful for completing the institute’s archival project, which encompassed the majority proportion of my internship duties over the summer. Alongside the archival work, I was assigned other duties at the institute consisting of updating CIG membership database, entering new/renewing member names and contact information to the CIG database and delivering invitations to and picking up items from different institutions and government offices. This was particularly enjoyable as I was able to incorporate my daily exercise component as well as have the opportunity to explore various areas of Athens on foot. Perhaps the most rewarding task throughout my internship at the CIG was the ability to meet many academics and members of the tightly-knit archeological community in Athens. I had the opportunity to represent the Canadian Institute when partaking in other foreign school gatherings, including annual open meetings and lectures, and interact with many individuals at various receptions. Further, I was fortunate enough to be present during the CIG’s annual open meeting and the 2016 Colloquium entitled ‘From Maple to Olive’, hosted by the institute to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the recognition of the institute as a foreign school by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. During the annual open meeting, I assisted in preparing for the presentation and reception, and I was able to learn more about some of the recent findings of various ongoing projects being conducted under the CIG, as well as listen to an interesting lecture by Professor Margriet Haagsma, who presented her work on the ancient site of Kastro Kallithea. The colloquium was equally special, and was a great way for me to learn about all the projects that have been conducted by Canadian scholars during the institute’s history. This was incredibly valuable to me as I had been archiving all such the projects and had the chance to meet the various directors and participants of each project. Through the presentation of each speaker’s paper, I gained a deeper understanding of the aims, work, and results of each project.

Over the course of the internship I was also able to do a bit of traveling, visiting different cities, monuments and museums. Particularly, around Athens I was able to visit the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the Athenian Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Mount Lycabettus, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the Numismatic Museum, the Byzantine & Christian Museum, the Greek Parliament, and was also able to visit the Peloponnese with the Director and Assistant Director of the Institute to see the ongoing survey project in the Argos area, the Western Argolid Regional Project. I was also able to take some time to travel to northeastern Greece, to Thessaloniki and Kavala, where my relatives live, and spend some quality time with them and explore the Byzantine Castle and the Archaeological Museum in Kavala.

The global internship experience has been of incredible personal value for me, and it has afforded me the rare opportunity to work and experience daily life in a different country. I firmly believe that such endeavor has allowed for a unique addition to my skill set, being able to observe different methods of organization, take in different cultural and social interactions, traditions, and ways of life. I was able to heighten my level of awareness of the study of archaeology, learning about the function of the CIG, the work done under its auspices, and the role of foreign schools more generally, in the context of a collaborative effort with the Greek government to promote the study and preservation of Hellenic culture. Most valuable of all, I was able to exercise my proficiency in Modern Greek and learn more about my country of origin, being able to visit culturally significant sites and study findings from generations past. I would like to extend my gratitude to both York International for their extensive efforts in organizing and arranging opportunities for students to partake in such distinct experiences, as well as to the CIG, namely to the Director, Professor David Rupp, and Assistant Director, Dr. Jonathan Tomlinson for their warm hospitality and generosity for allowing me to be part of the CIG family. The experiences, friendships and memories I have made during this summer will always remain dear to me, and have immensely helped me in my growth both personally and academically.

Theodore Tsilfidis
York University intern, summer 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Fred Winter Collection

Alberobello, detail and general views of trulli (Professor Fred Winter, 1975)

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Roman at the Canadian Institute

My name is Claudia Tozzi and I am an Italian graduate student at the University of Tor Vergata, Rome. I completed a Master’s degree in Classical Archaeology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata with a thesis on Roman Painting, under the supervision of Professor Margherita Bonanno Aravantinos. I was awarded a scholarship with the program ‘Erasmus Placement’ by my university and this grant permitted me to spend a two-month period of traineeship abroad. I wanted to come to Athens because I love Greece’s ancient history, culture and monuments. I had previously visited Athens for vacation and wanted to come back. I choose to use the placement opportunity to explore ancient sites and museums in Greece. My Professor, Marcella Pisani, and the Assistant Director at the Canadian Institute, Jonathan Tomlinson, are friends and for this reason, my professor recommended that I apply for an internship with the Canadian Institute in Greece.

I began my two month internship at Canadian Institute in Greece on June 1st, and my first task was to catalogue new books and periodicals that were published in different languages (Greek, English, French, German and Italian). The vast majority of the books contained information about ancient Greek pottery and archaeological sites in the Mediterranean because the Canadian Library’s primary focus is on Mediterranean archeology, especially Greek. Another task was to scan and to digitize various documents. During this period I have had the opportunity to meet different people from many countries, whilst staying in the Institute’s guest accommodations, located on the third floor of the same apartment building as the Institute’s office and library.

I also assisted at the institute’s colloquium that took place on June 10 and 11, entitled “From Maple to Olive: A colloquium to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Canadian Institute in Greece”. The Colloquium took place in the auditorium of the Italian School and it consisted of two days of papers focusing on Canadian contributions to archaeological research in Greece. My main duty was to receive the guests and the speakers of the colloquium and I prepared the guest book for registration.

One of the best experiences of my internship at the Canadian Institute was the opportunity to visit the excavation at the site of Ancient Eleon, in eastern Boeotia. The site of Eleon is a current CIG fieldwork project directed by Dr. Brendan Burke (University of Victoria) and Dr. Bryan Burns (Wellesley College). On June 15, Jonathan, David, his wife Metaxia and I visited the site and saw the project’s apothekes below the site in Arma. Here the cleaned sherds were laid out by excavations locus. It was a very interesting excursion!

My favorite place in Athens is Filopappos Hill, also called the Hill of the Muses, because it offers excellent views of Attica and the Saronic Gulf, well-signed ruins and some of the very best vantage points for photographing the Acropolis. It’s a fantastic place!

Also I visited the Archaeological site of Eleusis, Ancient Corinth and the ruins of Acrocorinth. The ruins of Acrocorinth are my favorite place and I was to climb to the top of the hill. The climb yielded a beautiful view of the Peloponnese, and was perfect for taking pictures.

I would like to thank David Rupp, the Director of the Institute, and Jonathan Tomlinson, the Assistant Director, for the opportunity to conduct my internship at the CIG. I would also like to thank my colleague, York University intern Terry Tsilfidis.

Claudia Tozzi
Erasmus intern, summer 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016